As I continue to watch this growing season unfold, a few things stand out in my mind as being quite remarkable. The first is a good thing, as I find it almost incredible how fast the June-planted corn has been able to grow. The second is not so good, as I watch that same corn begin to show drought stress with very little heat. My thoughts are that this is a classic case where the upper part of the plant has literally outgrown its root system. With ninety degree temperatures now upon us and forecast for the next several days, I’m afraid this might get ugly fast. For you irrigation guys, please keep an eye on those thermal pictures and be ready to react much sooner than you may have guessed. For us non-irrigated guys, we need to pay close attention to the damage being done for marketing reasons and economic decisions that will be coming soon with regard to fungicides and foliar feeds.
With most of the “fat kid” pictures now behind us, we really need to focus our attention on emerging pests and diseases. For this, look for a few clues. The first will be a wavy like pattern that seems to run in several directions, and often originates from grassy waterways or field edges. The second is to always bring up your thermal image right next to your visual image using the “compare” feature in the AirScout website. Then look for hot spots in the thermal image that look perfectly fine in the visual image. When you see these warm places for no apparent reason, BEWARE, as something is most likely lurking below the canopy. Remember, this most likely won’t be apparent in the NDVI, or ADVI images yet, so be sure to lean on your thermals.
From a potential yield perspective, most of us normally think of corn as a crop of July, and soybeans a crop of August. That being said, I think they both will actually be a September crop this year. Because of the late season, disease will need to be managed with even greater emphasis as we are going to need those plants healthy later into the fall as they struggle to fill each kernel or pod. I know it’s hard to invest in this crop any further, but for those of you still sitting above your crop insurance guarantees, this may very well be your best ROI for the season. We often use the thermal imagery and only spray the hot areas of the field to reduce chemical costs, but each variety and farmer’s strategy may vary.
Thanks again for spending time with me, and always feel free to reach out if you need any help. Stay cool, and I’ll be back in touch soon!